The configuration policies of an organization should provide a baseline for device, registry and network settings for every system in the company. This can help determine how secure the systems are and ensure they are used effectively. It isn’t always a simple task, because configuration management can become extremely complex as the organization grows, but there are automated options that can help to streamline the entire process.
Configuration management can be done from a centralized location to control the operating systems and application settings at each end point system. This kind of control can have a large impact on network security and regulatory compliance, but managing it all can be very complex. The IT team must define the configuration tasks, schedule updates for specific systems, and generate reports to ensure that all settings are in line with the company’s standards.
An automated system can remove a lot of the complexities in this system by employing three basic procedures:
- Create a library of standardized configuration scripts (instructions for the automation procedures)
- Develop consistent scheduling practices to deploy configurations to the necessary systems
- Generate reports to validate enforcement of configuration policies
Understanding the Challenges
Using scripting to manage system configurations will likely involve a number of serious challenges. Some common examples include the necessity of incorporating existing third-party scripts into the organization and getting the right configuration policy to the right device. The IT team must also make it easy for people who don’t understand scripting to use these policies to ensure their systems are in alignment with the rest of the company.
Configuration policies must also be enforced on mobile devices and on any system that is in a remote location. Once all of this is done, the IT team must be able to verify the effectiveness of every system with usable reports.
Effective Configuration Policies
Effective configuration management should start with – in the most basic terms – a set of instructions. These can be the scripts that are designed by the IT team or brought in pre-packaged from third parties (taking advantage of these pre-made scripts can save a lot of time and effort for the IT team), and saved in a library of configuration for further use.
Once this library has been created, the IT team can use dynamic policies to control the configuration settings and schedule the necessary deployments. The team can set up dynamic groups to specify which devices receive which configurations, scripts or apps, and set them to deploy when it will not interrupt normal business functions. Whether these groups are defined by the OS, location, or installed apps, though, they must each be able to validate their configuration by reporting back to the administration or IT team.
By taking advantage of these procedures, the IT team can more easily deal with new systems or updates as they become necessary because they can react to events and run defined scripts to make sure the systems quickly meet the company’s configuration standards.